Behrnd-Klodt, Menzi L. “Acquiring Archives : Transferring Ownership and Rights” in Navigating Legal Issues in Archives.  Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2008.

  • Explanation of legal importance of documenting ownership of collections


Ellis, Judith, ed. Keeping Archives. Port Melbourne: Thorpe in association with the Australian Society of Archivists, 1993.

  • Good chapter on accessioning by  Paul Brunton and Tim Robinson. Lays out the importance of each step of the accessioning process.   The chapter concludes with the following:

“If time is limited, it is better to have accessioned all your archives and so have a basic level of control over them all, than to have completely processed only a small part of your holdings while the bulk of the records remain unaccessioned”

  • Immediately following the Accessioning chapter is a chapter on Arrangement and Description, also by Brunton and Robinson, which discusses how accessioning data informs processing.


Miller, Frederic M. Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 1990.

  • Excellent foundational chapter devoted to accessioning.  Explains why it is important legally and intellectually, and how accessioning can be leveraged for archival description.


Shallcross, Michael and Christopher J. Prom, eds. Appraisal and Acquisition Strategies. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2016.

  • Three foundational modules on accessioning, appraisal, and acquisition. All three focus on born-digital archives.

  • The volume offers high-level, conceptual frameworks as well as very detailed and practical suggestions.

  • Case studies and further reading sections in each module.


Weideman, Christine. “Accessioning as Processing.” The American Archivist, Vol. 69 (fall/winter), pgs. 274-283, 2006.

  • This article explores the application of “More Product, Less Process” particularly at the point of accession.

  • The methods were applied during the accessioning of two collections and the arrangement and description of a large collection of family papers.

  • The author describes the work completed, the time it took, and the consequences for operations throughout the repository.



DACS: Describing Archives: A Content Standard. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.

  • The content standard used by United States archivists when creating archival description, maintained by SAA.


Douglas, Jennifer. “Toward More Honest Description.” The American Archivist: Spring/Summer 2016, Vol. 79, No. 1, pp. 26-55.

  • The article encourages archivists to be more transparent to patrons about the “archival history” of a collection including documenting processing decisions and custodial history into description.

  • A good article for those wanting to explore and expand the way in which we describe the materials in our repository.


Guidelines for Efficient Archival Processing in the University of California Libraries

  • Good theoretical grounding in why to shift practices toward a focus on efficient processing.

  • Provides very granular instructions on what physical processing to do/not to do when using efficient processing tactics.

  • Suggests leaving audiovisual material in boxes served to the user - this may not be a practice all repositories want to follow.


Greene, Mark A. and Dennis Meissner. “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing.” The American Archivist: Fall/Winter 2005, Vol. 68, No. x, pp. 208-263.

  • Calls for a shift in archivists approach: work differently in order to make collections open for research more quickly; focus more on user needs than on collection’s (perceived preservation) needs

  • Particularly focuses on making assessments (preservation, restrictions, description, etc.) at a higher (than item) level, and particularly for 20th century collections


Hackbart-Dean, Pam and Elizabeth Slomba. How to Manage Processing in Archives and Special Collections. Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 2012

  • Provides an excellent overview of the processing lifecycle including processing priorities, managing processing, administration, training, and evaluation and assessment.

  • Excellent bibliographic essay points to foundational (and current as of 2012) archival  books and articles related to processing. Also has good examples of processing plans and worksheets.

  • Book isn’t too long (147 pages), so it’s an easy read to get a processing program up and running.


Hintz, Carrie. “Processing Levels: The Hows and Whys.” Chaos -> Order blog. November 10, 2015.

  • Great explanation of what to consider when deciding which processing level makes sense for a collection

  • Emphasizes ways to think “on the collection level”


Roe, Kathleen D. Arranging & Describing Archives & Manuscripts. Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 2005.

  • Provides helpful background to professional practices and changing notions of arrangement and description

  • Good chapters on “What “Entity” Should be Described?” and “Establishing Context” for records


Santamaria, Daniel A. Extensible Processing for Archives and Special Collections. Chicago: Neal-Shuman, 2015.

  • A must read for any repository considering the implementation of extensible processing.

  • Very good chapter on “attacking your backlog” and how a repository can use collections assessment surveys as part of a backlog reduction project.

  • Excellent “real world” case studies; examples of processing plans, project management documents.




Guidelines for Efficient Archival Processing in the University of California Libraries (See Section 3)

  • Section 3B includes a guide for assessing individual collections when determining levels of effort to invest in processing (based on value, expected use, condition, complexity, and available resources

  • Section SC includes a guide for establishing metrics related to processing rate; while Section 3D discusses labor allocations.

  • Section 3G is specific to processing metrics, understood as critical for facilitating “data-driven decision making” with the emphasis on measuring processes.


Conway, Martha O’Hara and Merrilee Proffitt. 2011. Taking Stock and Making Hay: Archival Collections Assessment. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.

  • Positions collection assessment as critical to collection management. It includes different collection surveys that are useful when thinking strategically about “meeting user needs, allocating available resources, and securing additional funding.”
  • Includes a  “how-to” guide of sorts that leads you step by step through an assessment project (from defining scope, methodology for gathering information (both qualitative and quantitative), and putting it all together so that it be of use.

  • Includes Appendices with exemplary projects that link to additional readings, project documentation (with instructions and definitions)



Conway, Martha O’Hara, and Merrilee Proffitt. 2012. “The Practice, Power, and Promise of Archival Collections Assessment.” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 13 (Fall): 100-112.

  • Recognizes the role of research libraries and the increasing role of special collections within academic institutions vested in ground-breaking scholarship. Discusses the need to assess existing special collections, with the goal of reducing backlogs and effectively providing access to existing collections, while moving forwards towards the acquisition of new collections.

  • Discusses exposing hidden collections, establishing processing priorities, assessing condition, and managing collections that have allowed–through successful collections assessment - archivists to shift from centered on their own collections to collaborations and possibilities of aggregated collection information systems that better serve teaching and research in the 21st century.



Novak-Gustainis, Emily R. 2012. “Processing Workflow Analysis for Special Collections: The Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine as Case Study.” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 13 (2): 113-128.  

  • Discusses in detail the implementation of an assessment methodology at Countway that enabled the analysis of processes for more efficient access to archives.

  • Emphasizes the need for collecting and sharing operational data that improve communications around the full cycle of what is encompassed in making available a research resource.

  • Includes methodology and findings (processing rates related to collection complexity, the tracking of granular processing activities, a tiered approach to processing, and projecting outputs and cost; resulting in a shift from “outputs-based to outcomes-evident assessment.” Evidence as advocacy to facilitate change.


Processing Metrics Collaborative Wiki Bibliography

  • A bibliography, and additional information, created around the “Processing Metrics Collaborative: Database Development Initiative.” Developed at Countway.


Processing Manual for the Manuscript Unit of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (See Section 2.5 Processing Estimates)

  • A quick, albeit maybe too basic, way of estimating collection size and rates of processing.


Houghton Library User Experience Survey 

  • A user survey developed by Houghton centered on the Reading Room experience. Emphasizes both focused work and broad exploration as key to the research process; and how collections, staff, and space are key to that endeavor.




Maier, Shannon Bowen.  2011. “MPLP and the Catalog Record as a Finding Aid.”  Journal of Archival Organization, 9:1, 32-44, DOI: 10.1080/15332748.2011.577652.


Peterson, Christie. “Access Restrictions that Promote Access.” Chaos -> Order blog. November 5, 2015.


Santamaria, Daniel A. Extensible Processing for Archives and Special Collections. Chicago: Neal-Shuman, 2015.

  • Page 121 - 152, “Public Services and User Needs”.  Short, but touches on many key issues.


Theimer, Kate (editor). Reference and access: innovative practices for archives and special collections. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.

  • First chapter of particular relevance:  “Building bridges: closing the divide between minimally processed collections and researchers. “  Authored by Emily Christopherson and Rachel Dreyer of the American Heritage Center.


Yakel, Elizabeth. “Thinking inside and outside the Boxes: Archival Reference Services at the Turn of the Century.” 2000. Archivaria. 49. 140-160.

  • Yakel’s examination of reference services as knowledge management provides a broader context within which one can consider communicating more information with less description.